An Interview with Vivek Shraya, Room's 2018 Poetry Judge

Vivek Shraya is an artist. Fluent in many mediums including music and the written word, Shraya is also the author of even this page is white, She of the Mountains and her upcoming book I’m Afraid of Men. Shraya released her album Part-Time Woman in 2017 and is one half of the music duo Too Attached, who blew the roof off Room Magazine’s Growing Room 2018 Festival Launch Party earlier this year. I had the pleasure of meeting the powerhouse that is Vivek Shraya at that launch party and jumped at the chance to speak with her again.

Reading Room

If I think about what I’m doing, I’ll never get off the plane. After all, it’s ridiculous to believe a computer program can predict two strangers will develop a meaningful relationship. It’s even more ridiculous to test that prediction by flying halfway across the country after a few dozen hours on Skype.

“The calm lunatic—now that is something to aspire to.”—Mary Ruefle, “On Fear”

I learned to skip this year. I use a heavy, knotted rope that thwacks the ground and burns my shoulders and whips my bare toes raw when I stumble. In the early days I’d walk around with welts on my forearms, too, but the self-flagellation has waned with practice. I’ve learned to tread water, to let my feet track familiar patterns—forward and back, side to side, in and out, one to the other—freeing my mind up to notice things.

Well, “freeing” might be an overstatement. 

Writing about us is a way to finally claim what happened as my truth, a space which is mine, where he can’t tell me what to feel. A moment, two years too late, of recognition. To say, without compromise or shame, I loved him. And he abused me. You don’t have to believe me. I don’t need him to read the emails. I just want to look in the mirror, see the girl staring back at me, and let her know that I’m sorry.

The Honourable Mention in our Winter 2017–2018 Short Forms Contest.

Currently on Newsstands

  • Room 41.2, Changing Language
    Edited by Kayi Wong

    In this issue:

    Manahil Bandukwala, Fang Bu, Allison Graves, Kadijah Guillaume, Ava Homa, Ashley Hynd, Amy LeBlanc, Vanessa Lent, Tasslyn Magnusson, Chloe Yelena Miller, Amy Oldfield, Alycia Pirmohamed, Mia Poirier, Victoria Prevot, Michelle Purchase, Jade Riordan, Ellie Sawatzky, Bren Simmers, Dahae Song, Anne Stone, Susie Taylor, Katherena Vermette, Kayi Wong, Hiba Zafran, Shellie Zhang

    .

Interview Room

Scaachi Koul

Covering everything from the state of Canadian media to adult summer camps to racist marketing in the beauty industry, Koul’s writing is as thoughtful as it is funny. Her first book, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter (Doubleday, 2017), is a sharp and poignant essay collection that covers family, friendship, racism, immigration, rape culture, and online harassment. In the following interview, Koul speaks to Room about writing her first book, keeping family secrets, and why representation matters.

Justin Ducharme and Amber Dawn

Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, edited by Amber Dawn and Justin Ducharme, will be a trailblazing collection in which sex workers share their experiential knowledge through the expressiveness, nuance, and beauty of poetry. Currently, Dawn and Ducharme are calling for self-identified sex workers from any part of the industry (survival or trade, past or present) to submit. Poems specifically about sex work are strongly encouraged, though writing about relationships, healing, identity, and other themes that may overlap. The book will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the fall of 2019. With the submission deadline nearing, Jónína Kirton caught up with the co-editors for an interview.

Dainty Smith

To celebrate the launch of Room 41.2 Changing Language, we would like to share the portion of the BackRoom and RoomMate interviews that didn't make it to print. First up, it's Nav Nagra's interview with Dainty Smith, whose work we discovered on Instagram last year.

Reviews

Koller’s novel explores universal concepts of what it means to exist and grow, to root and transplant—as an artist, a woman, a human, a living thing. Art Lessons has the potential to take root in your heart—let it.

Part art criticism, part biography, part lyric journey, Painter, Poet, Mountain studies the intersection of inspiration, experience, and creation that is inherent to various forms of artistic expression.

Pulsing with an old-world, occult feel, Barclay’s poetry draws the reader back in time with its tarot readers, bearded ladies, riding caps, griffins, and witchery.

Room with a View

Three people standing in front of buildings

Fainting Couch Feminists Episode 10: Alea Rae Clark: The Power of Sadness, Androgyny, and Art Rock

This episode features Alea Rae Clark, a singer, lyricist, and guitarist in the band Douse. Alea chats with Mica about why they transitioned away from their image as "front-woman" and how identifying as non-binary has helped Douse become more unified as a band. Alea and Mica also discuss whether sadness is necessary to create art, whether lyric-writing robots are a useful tool or a disgrace to humanity and the songwriting process, and what, exactly, is "art rock"?

CNF Contest 2018 Winners

Announcing the Winners of our 2018 Creative Non-Fiction Contest!

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our 2018 Creative Non-Fiction Contest, as selected by our esteemed judge Stacey May Fowles—novelist, sportswriter, and the author of essay collection, Baseball Life Advice. Please join us in congratulating the writers!